Kukla's Korner Hockey
The Nashville Predators have traded goaltender Tomas Vokoun to the Florida Panthers for a first-round pick and two second-round picks.
Vokoun, 30, was 27-12-4 with a 2.40 goals against average and .920 save percentage in 44 games with the Predators last season. He missed time in the middle of the season with a thumb injury, and backup Chris Mason ended up putting up even better numbers (24-11-4, 2.38, .925).
From CBC, an interruption from the usual…
Rankin Inlet has been abuzz this week with sightings of a celebrity couple — hometown hockey hero Jordin Tootoo and his girlfriend, American Idol finalist Kellie Pickler.
The NHL player has been dating the country singer since January and has brought her home to Nunavut to meet his family.
Most of Pickler’s northern time has been spent at the Tootoo cabin, far from noisy gadgets and her condo in Nashville.
“[There’s] no cellphone service here, so that’s a big plus. No one probably knows what a cellphone is here, do they?” she joked in a CBC interview.
continued… (Alas, young love. Why must it annoy me so?!)
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The most reasonable process for Bettman to follow would have been to invite Balsillie to Manhattan yesterday to make a presentation to the board and answer a few questions. Nothing formal. No vote on the ownership of the Predators.
Instead, Bettman avoided dealing with the issue at all. The biggest news of the day then became that Jeremy Jacobs, Bettman’s No. 1 supporter, who has singlehandedly remade the once proud Boston Bruins into a failed franchise, is now chairman of the board.
The battlefield is now well-defined. Three Americans – Bettman, Daly and Jacobs – dedicated to defeating Balsillie’s bid to bring hockey to the world’s richest hockey market.
And never having to really explain why.
from the Globe and Mail,
Wayne Gretzky may feel sorry for National Hockey League fans in Nashville, but the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes can see only good things if the Predators relocate to Southern Ontario.
In an interview with CTV’s eTalk, Gretzky said that if the Predators are sold to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and moved the next season to Hamilton, they would do well in what he dubbed “a great hockey area.”
from the AP via Sports Illustrated,
“Currently there isn’t a fully completed application before the board of governors,” Bettman said. “As a result I think people are getting a little bit ahead of themselves on this entire issue.
“It isn’t in any shape or form close to being ready for consideration as it relates to approval of an ownership change. I’m not exactly sure why people are focused on the Nashville Predators being anywhere other than in Nashville at this particular point in time.”
The board isn’t scheduled to meet again until the fall, so any deal likely won’t be approved before next season. The agreement between Leipold and Balsillie carried a June 30 deadline for completion, but that could be extended.
added 7:43pm, from the Kansas City Star,
Though expansion was not on the formal agenda, Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will manage the $276 million arena scheduled to open in October, said at least a dozen team executives inquired about the market in the event the NHL expands in the next year or two.
“It’s the highest level of attention I’ve ever seen,” said Leiweke, who is governor of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and member of the league’s expansion committee.
“There are two or three prominent people within the league who have asked to come look at the arena. They want to see the building, they’ve heard rave reviews about it, and they want to get comfortable with the marketplace, because they’re not convinced the marketplace works….”
from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,
The suspicion is that current owner Craig Leipold will slash the Predators’ payroll to its lowest point, roughly $33-million (U.S.), which could make for an anguished exit from Nashville.
Mason has heard the rumours. The fact he’s heard nothing else is worrisome.
“It started with the sale,” Mason said. “No one saw that coming.
“It was just one day - boom,” said Mason, who has been in touch with several teammates over the past few weeks. “We talk, but the only thing we know is what we hear [on television] or read [in newspapers]. We don’t know any more than you guys do. It just bugs me that nothing is being said.
from the Winnipeg Sun,
So how’s your off-season going so far, Barry Trotz?
“We’ve always had a road map of how we wanted to build our hockey team and try to win a Stanley Cup,” Trotz, the only head coach the Nashville Predators have ever known, said yesterday.
“Well, right now we have a little detour. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to get back on the main highway.”
A little detour? That’s like calling the Grand Canyon a pothole.
Then again, the knee-jerk reaction hasn’t been part of Trotz’s repertoire—how do you think he’s lasted 10 years in the NHL?
from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail,
The NHL hierarchy right now seems determined to do anything in its power to prevent a blue-chip potential owner from moving a moribund franchise in a dead American market to a Canadian city where folks are falling all over themselves to offer up deposits on season’s tickets.
To that end, various league sources have started trying to demonize Jim Balsillie, referring to him off the record as “a clown,” sending out the message that he’s a Mark Cuban in waiting, perhaps an Al Davis, that he’d be a destructive influence on the league. (Unlike, say, the various former NHL owners who have been led away in handcuffs.)
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
One team, the Flyers: boldly fixed on the future, determined by the dint of strong ownership and a big bag of cash to reclaim its long-standing place among the NHL elite.
The other, the Predators: adrift in a sea of uncertainty, needing desperately to appeal to fans in Nashville, but instead driving them away because of an ownership vacuum, a vacuum that saw the team trade away the signing rights to top free agents Kimmo Timonen, the team’s best player and captain, and emerging two-way forward Scott Hartnell to the Flyers.
That’ll have them busting down the doors at the Nashville Arena.
from the Tennessean,
Leipold has said he’s lost a combined $27 million over the past two years and isn’t eager to suffer any such losses again. Even though he might not have to pay players he’s signing now in the long run, there is the possibility the proposed deal with Balsillie might fall through, which would leave Leipold on the hook for new contracts.
“Craig is the owner of the team, he’s the one footing the bills and he’s on record as saying he does not want to lose in the area of $15 million anymore on this hockey club in any given year,’’ Poile said.
As a result, Poile said he never even made an offer to Hartnell or Timonen after discussing contract parameters with their agents. Timonen, Nashville’s captain last season, signed a six-year, $37.8-million deal with the Flyers, while Hartnell signed a six-year, $25.2-million deal.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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